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Guest commentary: How Enhance La Jolla, La Jolla Foundation and MAD come together for Village improvements

For details about Enhance La Jolla and the Maintenance Assessment District, visit enhancelajolla.org.
For details about Enhance La Jolla and the Maintenance Assessment District, visit enhancelajolla.org.
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La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District report

The La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District recently celebrated two full years in operation. We want to take this opportunity to look at how the regular maintenance activities of the MAD serve as an important link in Enhance La Jolla’s ability to bring the La Jolla Village streetscape plan and other capital improvement projects to fruition with financial support from the La Jolla Community Foundation.

The foundation, a philanthropic organization, was created a decade ago with the intention of raising funds for infrastructure projects to improve La Jolla. When LJCF leaders discovered that work in the public right of way could only be done by a maintenance assessment district (MAD), business improvement district or property-based business improvement district, an initiative began to form a MAD within The Village. Enhance La Jolla, the nonprofit organization responsible for managing the MAD, began its work in public right-of-way areas in October 2019.

LJ MAD cannot directly accept donations for infrastructure improvements. All money donated toward infrastructure improvements must first be directed to LJCF. The foundation then directs these funds to ELJ for expenditure on infrastructure and capital improvement projects. It is the MAD entity, operated with direct oversight from the ELJ board of directors, that provides the ability for these infrastructure and capital improvement projects to extend into the public right of way.

With a MAD in place, funds raised by LJCF for the La Jolla Village streetscape plan can be efficiently transferred to Enhance La Jolla while maintaining tax-deductible status. Both LJCF and ELJ are 501(c)(3) organizations.

The La Jolla Village streetscape plan is a comprehensive project to improve The Village by reclaiming space in the public right of way and optimizing this space for pedestrians, landscape and other aesthetics. One of the most talked-about infrastructure projects is the transformation of the Girard Avenue and Prospect Street intersection atop the hill leading down to the Pacific Ocean and Ellen Browning Scripps Park. This area is nicknamed “The Dip” for the way Prospect takes a deep dive south toward the ocean just before intersecting with Girard.

Considered the catalyst for the La Jolla Village streetscape plan, The Dip is envisioned to be transformed into a public pedestrian plaza overlooking La Jolla Cove.

Improvements to The Dip are only the start of the transformative plans for The Village. Other focus areas include Girard Avenue and Wall Street, a midblock crossing on Girard, and Girard and Silverado Street. The first project undertaken will likely be the Girard/Wall intersection, a first step in showing the community the potential magnitude of the entire La Jolla Village streetscape plan.

As promised during the October Enhance La Jolla meeting, plans to renovate the Girard Avenue streetscape have started making the rounds to La Jolla’s community planning groups.

Much work needs to be done to accomplish this vision, and effective collaboration among ELJ, LJCF, LJ MAD, private donors, community groups, civic leaders and the city of San Diego must occur in order to be successful. LJCF and ELJ are seeking donor support for infrastructure and capital improvement projects. Naming and sponsorship opportunities for future infrastructure projects are available. Donations may be made in recognition of individuals living or deceased, or in honor of a personal or professional milestone.

For more information about the La Jolla Village streetscape plan and how you can help support infrastructure improvements in The Village, visit enhancelajolla.org.

Ed Witt is board chairman of Enhance La Jolla and Mary Montgomery is district manager for the La Jolla Maintenance Assessment District.